Next week on June 19th, we celebrate Juneteenth. This day marks 156 years since the last group of enslaved African Americans were notified of their freedom in Texas. Our HQ office in Austin, Texas will be taking the day before off to recognize the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. As we reflect on this important day in our nation’s history, we reached out to some of our Black partners in Canada and in the US to share what this day means to them.
What Does Juneteenth Mean to You?
Terry Love, Black Men Run Houston Captain: “Growing up in a community that celebrated Juneteenth, it was always a recognition and reverence to when the message of liberation finally reached all enslaved people. While it has usually been a time to gather together and fellowship, awareness of the importance of this holiday has grown in the last year, and I am excited to share more of the impact of what this holiday means, as it was truly just the beginning of a journey towards equality for all citizens within this country.”
Vaughn Taylor, AfterShokz Canada Athlete: “Although I do not live in America, I consider Juneteenth an important historical event that began the end of an era riddled with brutality, inequality, racism, and inhumanity. Juneteenth is a reminder of a day where I as a black individual can be grateful for an opportunity to be viewed for more than the colour, tone, complexion, vibrance, and uniqueness of my skin or features.”
Krista Lee, AfterShokz ShokzStar: “Juneteenth is a day of empowerment for the African American race. Juneteenth is a day of jubilee because it celebrates the emancipation of slavery. I celebrate by gathering with friends and family for food and fellowship.”
What Does Equality as a Black Runner Mean to You?
Vaughn Taylor, AfterShokz Canada Athlete: “Equality as a black runner or athlete means I am not racialized or stereotyped to be fast, strong, or the biggest competition solely because of the colour of my skin. I do not want to be viewed as a Usain Bolt because I run fast and I am also black. I am me. I work as hard, if not harder than the person next to me and have to make hard decisions like everyone else to compete and perform in my sport. It means I am on the same level playing field. I am me.”
How is your community celebrating Juneteenth?
Terry Love, BMR Houston Captain: “BMR Houston will have members participating in multiple events during the Juneteenth weekend. A local run club that was founded on Juneteenth will celebrate their 4th year anniversary, so many will join that celebration. Another leader in the Houston running community created a half marathon called the HDDN HLF, which is a 13.1 mile route that celebrates many significant or special areas of Houston. Some members will be participating in that route, as it goes through many historic neighborhoods including Freedman's town, which is one of the largest Freedman's Town communities still in existence.”
How Can You Become Involved?
Support Black Girls Run! and go the distance this June with the Run to Erace Racism virtual race. Sign up to run, walk, or hike 50, 100, or 200 miles with your best running buddy. If you’re open to making a new virtual connection, BGR! can also pair you up with a running partner from another ethnicity. This is a great opportunity to connect with and support runners in the Black community as we celebrate Juneteenth.
You don’t have to come down to the heart of Texas to hear some of the best Zydeco, Blues and Jazz music around! The National Juneteenth Music Festival is taking place in Fort Worth, Texas with a virtual viewing option. Tune in from anywhere in the world and enjoy music from Black musicians in the DFW area. Your ticket will also help support organizations providing Covid relief and resources for artists in the DFW area.
Our fellow Austinites can enjoy a mix of visual and performing arts at venues across the city. The Black Art WKND is providing a space for Black artists to express themselves and welcomes those in the community to join in. AfterShokz will be a sponsor for this local event hosted by Chris Tobar and _OF COLOR.